“These West Indians are perfectly suited for T20 cricket where they keep coming in and blasting the ball out of the park. Individual flashes of brilliance work wonders and give you wins in the shortest format. However, it doesn’t work that way in 50-over cricket”
There’s absolutely no doubt that most of the West Indian players are T20 superstars. These superstars take part in all the T20 leagues all across the globe. The batsmen especially take the world by storm. They wreak havoc and decimate bowling attacks in those leagues.
Hence, they brought a similar mindset and strategy to this World Cup. It worked against England a few months back, it worked in the warm-up game, it worked against Pakistan in their opening game in this World Cup (though the target was just 106 runs).
However, that approach doesn’t always work. It backfired against Australia, it backfired again against England. There’s a reason why the 50-over format is quite different from the T20 cricket. We may well be moving towards a day where 300-350 is notched up with relative ease in 50-over cricket. However, ODI cricket is different. It’s not like T20 cricket which is termed as the slam-bang version of the game. There is a lot more time, a lot more strategy and a lot of planning that goes behind the scenes and even during a 50-over game.
The key is patience and that’s what has been missing from West Indies’ campaign in this World Cup so far. It was their game to lose against Australia and they handed it in a gift wrap to the defending champions. They squandered two crucial points as some reckless cricket cost them the game. It was similar against England as well. And it’s the batting that needs to cope most of the blame.
Also read: West Indies pay the price for complacency
The West Indies batting line-up seems like a real powerhouse and might boast of some of the biggest and hardest hitters of the cricket ball. They had shown their ability in the series against England in February and March earlier this year and then again in the warm-up game against New Zealand. There was a massive promise. They were all hyped up and ‘500’ was doing the rounds in their press conferences in the lead-up to this tournament. However, that batting powerhouse hasn’t arrived at this World Cup.
It’s blown hot and cold and hasn’t hit its straps yet in this tournament. Only four players have gone past the 50-run mark in an innings. In fact, only two players have aggregated more than 100 runs in this tournament so far. And it’s been the shot selection and mindless slogging to blame.
Chris Gayle has looked good at the top but has failed to convert his starts. He’s threatened to take the game away from the opposition but the Gayle Storm hasn’t really hit England so far. Even Lewis is looking a pale shadow of himself. Shai Hope and Nicholas Pooran have promised a lot at 3 and 4. Shimron Hetmyer has more or less slogged his way out while the all-rounders (Jason Holder, Andre Russell, and Carlos Braithwaite) haven’t done anything substantial and have simply tried to hit out.
Andre Russell has been the biggest disappointment. He has walked in and from ball number one, he has looked to slog everything out of his sight. It looks as if he wants to smash every ball out of the ground. He doesn’t really care about the match situation nor the batting partner and his fluency. The hard-hitting all-rounder has blindly just swung his way through this World Cup. And the results are there to see (36 runs in two innings).
He had 18 overs to bat in the game against England and all he did was slog. Against Australia, all he had to do was see off Mitchell Starc and take the game deep. However, all he does was slog and fall prey to Mitchell Starc.
While Russell has done it almost every ball, the others have tried to slog their way out as well. They haven’t paid too much heed to the game situation or the conditions. They just want to keep going on and on and on. They just don’t want to stop. They all treat it as a longer version of T20 cricket.
In Southampton, the square boundaries are huge and you need to make a decent connection to clear those boundaries. However, Windies didn’t want to adapt. They kept pulling and slogging in pursuit of clearing the long boundary and kept holing out. Gayle did that, Russell did that, Braithwaite fell trying to do that as well. And at Trent Bridge, all they had to do was to bat with more maturity and target the right bowlers. But these batsmen went after Australia’s best bowler and paid the price.
Just look at how England batted in their run-chase of 212. There were hardly any attempts at clearing the long boundary. They did not hit a single six in their innings and the Windies batsmen simply love sixes and they keep going for them.
“Our batters needed to take more ownership and form a few more partnerships. We needed to dig in deep and need to correct it. It has happened twice in two games now,” Jason Holder was quoted saying after the game. He was spot on. The batters need to be a lot more responsible and have a clear gameplan.
For two games in a row, the batting has bottled it up. While the run-chase against Australia will hurt Windies big time. Their performance against England was lacklustre too. Hence, it’s something they need to review quickly.
These West Indians are perfectly suited for T20 cricket where they keep coming in and blasting the ball out of the park. Individual flashes of brilliance work wonders and give you wins in the shortest format.
However, it doesn’t work that way in 50-over cricket. You need partnerships, you need game plans, these individual performances can win you a game or two, not a lot. You can’t blindly slog everything for fours and sixes, ODI cricket is a lot more than that. Hence, West Indies need to take note, this is not T20 cricket, ODIs have 50 overs and you have a decent amount of time to change things around. You don’t have to go after everything.